Local Authorities

Coronavirus and Private Water Supplies sampling

The current Government advice is to adopt social distancing where possible and to avoid unnecessary travel in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).  The majority of private water supplies only require validation sampling at consumer taps every 5 years (except those to single dwellings, where monitoring is on request), or at least once per year for many large supplies or those used as part of a commercial or public activity (Regulation 9 supplies).  In order to comply with that Government advice, Local Authorities may decide to prioritise or postpone sampling visits until guidance changes.  Local authorities may be able to reschedule any outstanding samples to later in the calendar year depending on developments going forward. If circumstances make this impossible, then local authorities should document the reason for not sampling.

A risk management approach is advocated by DWI in line with the WHO drinking water safety planning approach, and as such sampling is simply a means of validating that the risk mitigation measures in place (source protection, treatment, storage etc.) are effective.  Therefore it is recommended that in the absence of any monitoring, consumers and other relevant persons of private water supplies should be encouraged to bolster their operational checks and ensure that maintenance is being carried out as required (e.g. replacing UV lamps or monitoring chlorine dose) and that they have sufficient spares of essential equipment to ensure supplies remain wholesome at all times. They should document these actions, and if required present these to Local Authorities to confirm that supplies did not present a risk to health during these exceptional circumstances.

The World Health Organisation have issued advice on water, sanitation, hygiene, and waste management, for COVID-19 (PDF 655KB).

Sampling of Private Water Supplies

The Private Water Supplies (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 and the Private Water Supplies (Wales) Regulations 2017 require local authorities to demonstrate that the sampling, transportation, and storage of private water supplies complies with the ISO/IEC 17024 standard.  Local authorities will be aware that DWI has developed a standard sampling procedures manual to assist local authorities comply with this requirement.  Any individual collecting, transporting and storing samples of private water supplies must demonstrate compliance with the scheme sampling manual. In practice this means gaining certification, following training and attainment of the required pass criteria on assessment.

CATG are the nominated certification body responsible for maintaining the ISO17024 accreditation, as well as training and awarding certification of successful applicants.

CATG has confirmed that the accreditation to the ISO 17024 standard is expected imminently and, as such, are in a position to take bookings for training from those wishing to be certificated under the scheme, however, due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis this process is likely to be delayed.

Local authorities are encouraged to make the necessary arrangements at the earliest opportunity.  However, given the current situation and tight time frames involved it is expected that local authorities will now not be able to complete the accreditation process prior to the July 2020 implementation date.

Local authorities are advised to complete the required accreditation as soon as possible once the situation has improved and Government guidance allows.  Local authorities should contact CATG regarding the availability of courses on 01524 400632 or via their website at https://www.catg.co.uk/contact

Both the scheme (PDF 126KB) and the sampling manual (PDF 423KB) are available on the Inspectorate’s website. 

Local Authorities are advised to familiarise themselves with these procedures.

DWI will be monitoring progress with training and accreditation, and report on the position at the end of 2021.


Statutory Duties

Section 77 of the Water Industry Act 1991 requires a local authority to keep itself informed about the wholesomeness and sufficiency of every private water supply within its area. Each local authority achieves this by conducting its statutory duties which includes; risk assessments, investigations, authorisations and monitoring (sampling and analysis). The Regulations also make provisions for local authorities to charge fees to the relevant person(s) for conducting these duties.

If through these duties a local authority deems a private water supply to be unwholesome and/or insufficient then it has the power under the Regulations to serve notices on the supply in order to mitigate against these risks

Local authorities are under a statutory duty to provide reporting information relating to private water supplies to the Secretary of State and Welsh Ministers. This submission of data is due on 31 January of every year, for records relating to supplies in their area during the previous calendar year.

Case Studies

Given the varying nature and condition of private water supplies available the Inspectorate has made available a number of different Case Studies in order to provide additional guidance for local authorities.


Page reviewed: 25 March 2020
Page modified: 25 March 2020

Drinking Water Inspectorate